I think we have come a long way in realistic images of how women should look than when I was growing up. Curves, hips and big booties were never celebrated when I was coming of age. With today’s women in the public eye such as Beyoncé Knowles, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, who’s curves are coveted on magazine covers and in music videos, you are no longer considered fat if you’re not a size zero. Thinking back to when I was in my teens, there was no such women in the public eye who showed off their curves and did so beaming with pride. I felt awkward, unattractive and over-weight at times. Perhaps if there were these such TV personas who are not pencil thin, then I would not have felt so out of place. I will never forget when Tyra Banks was lambasted in the media for a noticeable weight gain as she frolicked on a Caribbean beach in her bikini and committed the crime of having cellulite on a model body. She later declared to hell with today’s expectations of what a woman should look like. She wailed emotionally on her talk show, “if you don’t like how I look, you can kiss my fat a#*!” Tyra Banks has cellulite like me? You mean that perfect air-brushed image I saw in vogue as an impressionable, naive youth wasn’t really her? I truly wish I knew that back in the day. Lady Gaga gained weight last year from her mother’s hearty Italian home cooking when she was having a sabbatical from being a super star. She found her weight gain a refreshing and welcome change and declared so on all her social media feeds, dancing in a skin-tight body suit, heavier thighs for all to see. That never would have happened twenty years ago. So with all this progress, why do we continue to be so critical of ourselves?
My gym locker room is a place of lively banter among members. There is laughter, recipe exchange, talk of intense classes and all too often self-depreciation. We are always so generous with our verbal encouragement to others, but rarely to ourselves. Some do not even know how to take a compliment and will disagree with the compliment and further point out their flaws! Perhaps people may not want to compliment themselves for fear of seeming a braggart. Keeping this in mind, it’s not necessary to go to the opposite end of the stick and beat ourselves up with the stick. These are just a few examples of what I have overheard in the locker room:
– “The only thing that keeps my thighs from rubbing together is zero carbs and spin class.”
– “My butt is starting to drop to the back of my knees”
-” I’ve gotta lose this muffin top. It’s beyond disgusting now”
– “Ur, I hate my hair, my nose, my back fat”
As well as various comments about our own stretch marks and orange peel skin on our thighs, I have heard the cruelty go on and on. I doubt all this negative self-talk goes on in the male locker rooms. Listen, we all have humps, bumps or lovely lady lumps somewhere on our bodies, especially those of us who are not 20 anymore (or 30 for that matter) any longer, but let’s not belittle ourselves over said humps, bumps and cellulite lumps. It certainly is not going to help the matter. I for one am guilty as charged of being verbally mean to myself. Just last week, Andy and I were going out to dinner and I cruelly insulted my thighs in my new jeans. I felt defeated and as though I had nothing flattering to wear. I was in a mood! Keep in mind it was that time of month, and I was feeling especially blah. Andy has no time for my self pity and puts me right back in place. (That’s what I love about him. He’s a straight shooter.) He will say, “how about thanking God that you have two legs to stand on.” That puts things right into perspective, believe me. I have said many times I will stop this verbal self-destruction and be grateful for what God has blessed me with, but every once in a while I regress back to my old ways. I know there will always be things about ourselves we would rather change, but there must be a more productive and kind way to communicate this. How about, “I think I should strengthen my mid section, and cut back on certain foods” instead of, “my muffin top is beyond disgusting.” Or “I could stand to lose a few inches off my thighs, but I’m still happy with all my progress” instead of “my thighs look so ginormous in these jeans.”
So ladies, remember the age-old golden rule, if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Build others up of course, but let us not forget to do the same for ourselves in the process.
(Signage courtesy of Women’s Fitness Clubs of Canada.)